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The Deft Art of Delegation

by fatweb

Robyn Pearce

Time management expert

Delegation, or the lack of it, can make or break any business.
As I work with both large and small companies in a very wide range of industries around the world, I constantly hear that many owners and managers struggle with delegation.
I’ve noticed two major mistakes made by many well-intentioned folk:
1. They’re available too much of the time to their staff.
2. When passing a task over, they give lots of unnecessary detail to competent staff.
Being available for staff isn’t of course an issue in small farming businesses, but for many business operators and owners, it can be. Do you have a lot of interruptions? Do you find that staff with queries, phone calls, drop-in visitors and emails regularly break your focus?
If you’ve said ‘yes’ to staff interruptions, consider this: We’ve come out of the dark ages where bosses communicated as little as possible to their underlings. People were expected to take instructions and just get on with the job.
During the last few decades there has been a change in management style. We’re now encouraged to communicate openly with our staff, to ‘empower’ them. However, there’s a downside. Many business owners feel they have to constantly ‘be there’ for their people.
So where does delegation fit in here? Being ‘there for your staff’ 100 percent of the time is not good management. In fact, it causes bottlenecks, frustration and low morale, and blocks your staff from learning and developing their own skills.
If competent people keep interrupting you with questions they should be able to handle, ask them to come with two solutions every time they come with a question. Pretty soon you’ll reduce the questions.
If they’ve had to work out the answers before they come, they’ll soon realise they don’t need to interrupt you for what amounts to a ‘rubber-stamp job’. If you’re too quick to supply the answer, you encourage laziness and dependency.
Beware of good old human nature – the tendency to take the easy road. For many people, if they can get someone else to do their thinking, why wouldn’t they ask!
And a solution for Point 2; if a staff member is competent – don’t force your details on them. Instead, give them the big picture of what you want to achieve and see what they come up with.
Of course you’re willing to guide, coach and review, but beware of unnecessary detail. Often a good staff member will have a better way.

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